YVote is working to create a cross-partisan, youth civic engagement movement through which young people can channel their passions and beliefs into positive civic action, at and beyond the ballot box.

Surveys, data, and informal conversations with young people indicate that many feel powerless, disenchanted with the political process and the government, and don’t perceive voting as a meaningful form of having voice– for a number of understandable reasons but with damaging implications. In 2016, 70% of those over 70 years old voted; by contrast, only 43% of those under 25 did. Had they turned out in higher numbers, the political outcome would likely have been different.

Meanwhile, recent events have catalyzed an enormous appetite to create change, and many youth yearn to find a way to channel their efforts to strengthen civil society and to build a more just and equitable world. Now is the time for a cross-partisan, youth civic engagement movement, and YVote aims to help spark and support it.

YVote proposes a new approach to civic motivation and voter registration, mobilization, and turnout. Working with racially, economically, and politically diverse cadres of New York City rising juniors and seniors who will be “18 in ’18” and preparing for their first vote in the midterm elections, YVote participants are identifying and unpacking issues they’re passionate about–such as affordable housing/gentrification, school desegregation, mass incarceration–examining connections between these issues and the question of “why vote?” alongside additional ways they can make a positive difference in their communities and more broadly.

Fifty rising diverse and dynamic students from across over 20 public high schools and all five boroughs of New York City launched YVote this summer through a series of student focus groups. Participants will engage in historical analysis–rooted in a case study of Freedom Summer 1964–and regional analysis–rooted in exploration of the 2016 presidential election.  They will hone in on WHY voting matters today, WHO today’s voters are, WHAT motivates young voters across the political spectrum, and HOW to engage them in and beyond voting.

Participants will develop and user-test an array of outreach initiatives around civic literacy and voter engagement with teens in their own schools in communities throughout the 2017-8 school year.  Next summer will serve as the crux of YVote’s “18 in 18” campaign, with teens engaging with teens in politically divergent communities.  Through this, YVote aims to galvanize a broad range of young people and youth-focused organizations in building relationships across racial, economic, religious, ethnic, regional, and political divides in the service of cross-partisan voter engagement of 18-22 year olds across the country. For more information, check out our overview.

YVote aspires to cultivate a youth civic engagement ecosystem that supports youth movement building and mobilization efforts.  We are eager to engage a broad and diverse range of partners in creating an inclusive, intersectional alliance committed to supporting young people in becoming informed, engaged citizens on the front lines of change.

All photos by Justin Cohen (http://www.justinccohen.com/about/)